Last week I wrote my first White Paper proposal about the potential benefits of Stem Cell research and the ethical issues associated with the advancement of regenerative science. For this weeks proposal, I would like to look into a completely different topic. The inspiration for this topic comes from an article that I read about Reebok’s EasyTone line of products that sparked a large controversy and civil action lawsuit. For those of you who are unfamiliar with EasyTone, it is a line of footwear and apparal that is meant to tone the user’s muscles while simply walking.
Here is the official product description according to Amazon.com if you need any more information.
“The Reebok EasyTone Reeinspire – the must-have shoe of the year. An Oprah magazine O List pick! Get a better butt and better legs with every step. With this women’s toning shoe, you can get firmer thanks to its patented sole technology, which emulates walking on sand. EasyTone technology improves muscle tone in the hamstrings, calves and glutes up to 28%. This Reebok toning shoe features DMX Max enhanced underfoot foam cushioning for lasting comfort. A SmoothFit seamless design ensures minimal rub and decreases irritation. Specially designed Women’s Specific Last technology ensures a better fit for women’s feet, and a removable antibacterial sockliner accommodates orthotics. Motivation is the key to staying fit, and it gets a little easier with the Reebok EasyTone Reeinspire!”
The reason this story is so intriguing is because some of the claims that the company made about their product were not backed up by substantial scientific evidence that the product actually performs as well as they said it does. Reebok launched a major advertising campaign for the shoe and apparel line that featured scantily clad women and impressive, yet inaccurate performance statistics.
This is an example of one of those advertisements.
This ad campaign created very serious consequences for the Reebok brand and inspired a great deal of public outrage. The result was a civil action lawsuit that required Reebok to pay $25 million in customer refunds. For my second White Paper idea, I think it would be interesting to further research the advertising campaign, the ensuing controversy and the lawsuit that followed. I want to examine the temptation for sales people to deceive their customers in order to make an easy profit. I would also like to look into how the results of the lsawsuit affect Reebok as well as other companies that have to deal with the constant pressure to produce the next “Big Thing” that will redefine their market.